Psychologist Belinda Benson Williams, 68, of Miquon, an authority on the academic-achievement patterns of culturally different and socially and economically disadvantaged children, died of cancer May 22 at home.

Since 2000, Dr. Williams had been a consultant for several educational organizations, including the Missouri Department of Education, Temple University's Laboratory for Student Success, and the teacher-certification program at the University of Pennsylvania. She also taught courses on meeting the diversity challenge in education at Chestnut Hill College.

Dr. Williams previously was director of the Urban Education Project at Research for Better Schools for four years. She also had been a professor and administrator at Penn's Graduate School of Education and was a research specialist at the educational laboratory at Brown University. In the spring of 2007, Dr. Williams was visiting professor at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

Before moving to Philadelphia, Dr. Williams was with the Paterson (N.J.) Board of Education for 16 years and was special assistant to the superintendent there from 1989 to 1991.

A native of Englewood, N.J., Dr. Williams earned a bachelor's degree from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, where she met her husband, Robert I. Williams. She earned a master's degree in psychology from the New School for Social Research in New York and a doctorate in psychology from Rutgers University.

She and her husband married in 1964 and had two sons. As a young mother in North Jersey, she became aware of the achievement gap between African American and white students, her family said. The cross-cultural study of learning became her passion, they said, and was central to her research and numerous publications. It was her vision to close the achievement gap, her family said.

In 1993, Dr. Williams received the Ida B. Wells Risk Taker Award from the National Alliance of Black School Educators.

Dr. Williams enjoyed dinner with the GEMS, a group of professional women; vacations in Sag Harbor and East Hampton, N.Y.; and time with her grandson, Asa.

In addition to her grandson, she is survived by sons Mark and Craig and three sisters. Her husband died in 2001.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Heritage Chapel, George Washington Memorial Park, 80 Stenton Ave., Plymouth Meeting, where friends may call after 1.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.